I’m an ambitious person.
Not a characteristic you typically associate with someone who is in ministry? I agree; at first, that may seem like a contradiction. We typically think about ambition in a negative sense because we’ve witnessed so many ambitious people doing whatever they can to climb the ladder, to achieve, and to protect their status. But, in and of itself, ambition is morally neutral. It can be used for evil or it can be used for good.
I’ve always been ambitious to make any contribution to the church that I can. Occasionally, that ambition has been accompanied by a strong desire to ascend in leadership, to take on greater responsibilities at a higher level. Actually, I think that’s a good thing. In men and women who God calls and equips to lead, there’s always an inner pull, an ambition, toward greater leadership.
But, what do you do when you’re not given greater responsibility? When your ambitions fall flat? When you don’t get to lead at the level at which you’re capable?
There’s one man whose ministry in obscurity encourages me greatly.
I want to be like Andrew
Andrew was one of Jesus’ first disciples but he wasn’t the greatest. He’s best known as Simon Peter’s brother. He rarely appears in the Gospels. He isn’t included in Jesus’ inner circle; James, John, and his brother occupied that space. And, other than a quick mention in the book of Acts, Andrew never appears again in the text of the New Testament. When it comes to notoriety among the disciples, he’s pretty low on the list. He wasn’t a leader. He wasn’t prominent. He didn’t hold a special position.
But, what we do know about Andrew is a huge encouragement to me:
Every time we meet Andrew in the Gospels, especially in the book of John, we find him bringing someone to Jesus.
In John 1, Andrew is the one who actually introduces his brother, Peter, to Jesus. Peter was the leader of the disciples and the central figure in the first few decades of the Church.
In John 6, Andrew is the person responsible for bringing the boy with the fish and loaves to Jesus. Jesus used the boy’s lunch to feed 5,000 people.
In John 12, Philip is approached by some Greek men who want to see Jesus. He doesn’t know what to do so he gets Andrew. And, of course, Andrew brings them to Jesus.
I love it! Andrew isn’t the disciple whose name gets placed on the marquee. He’s not at the top of the organizational chart. But, that doesn’t faze him. He continually goes about his business of introducing people to Jesus.
So, what happens when your ambition for greater responsibility doesn’t get you noticed? You remain faithful. You keep bringing people to Jesus. You keep serving, continue loving, and continually pray for God to convert your ambition into greater depths of dedication to your role.
When ambition exists because you want to get noticed in ministry, that’s trouble. Ambition is OK as long as long as the object is bringing people to Jesus.
What about you?
What is your ambition in ministry? Is it to get noticed? Or, is it to bring people to Jesus? If you’re not a vocational minister, what’s your ambition? Do you consider it your job to bring people to Jesus?